The following letter has been sent to all Maryland county executives, Governor Martin O'Malley, and State Superintendent of Schools, Nancy S. Grasmick.
Dear County Executive,
As we start the new school year I would like for you to consider where the students who attend your school system REALLY live. Do they really live within your county or are they really living in another jurisdiction and attending your school system because it is perceived to be better than the school system they should attend?
For example, there are many Baltimore city parents who lie about where they live so that their children can attend better school systems in Baltimore County, Howard County, or Anne Arundel County. In the past I’ve read the Baltimore and Howard County school systems pay people to verify the addresses of students who are suspected of living outside of their jurisdictions. If they find a student does not live in the county, the student is removed from the school system. While this is fair for the counties to do, I would like to propose a “solution” to the situation that doesn’t involve removing the student from the school and allowing the student the chance to obtain a decent education.
Baltimore City has a few schools that rank near the top in the state; Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Baltimore City College, Western High School, and the Baltimore School of the Arts High School are the schools. Each of these schools also has students from outside of Baltimore City who attend the school. Parents whose children meet the entrance criteria and who are accepted, and who live outside of Baltimore City, pay to attend the schools. My proposal would be to apply this same concept across the state of Maryland.
If parents live in one jurisdiction and want to send their children to school in another jurisdiction, they could pay for the privilege to do so. The amount paid would be cost per student of the jurisdiction to which they want to send their children. However, students who live in the jurisdiction would get priority. If there is room left in the school, then the out of jurisdiction students would be allowed to attend on a first come first serve basis or a lottery basis. Another payment option would be to “transfer” the money from one jurisdiction to another jurisdiction. For example, suppose the Anne Arundel system costs $5000 per student while the Howard County system costs $6000 per student. If there is space available in a Howard County school, the Anne Arundel County school system would “transfer” $5000 to the Howard County school system. The parent would make up the $1000 difference. If a Baltimore City parent wanted to send their child to a Howard County school, and it costs $9000 per student in Baltimore City, Baltimore City would “transfer” $5000 to Howard County. Baltimore City would keep the $4000 difference.
This solution should be amenable to those who advocate “school choice” and to those who advocate the current scheme of public schools. Additionally, since in jurisdiction students get preference over out of jurisdiction students and space has to be available, in jurisdiction parents shouldn’t fear school over crowding.
Thank you for seriously considering my ideas